Several researchers and surveys claim that India right now is the second largest population of internet users in the world. And with every passing day, the number is only getting bigger. Most of these Indians use the internet to shop products, including clothes, gadgets and also medicines. Are you also among the ones who depend on online retailers to buy medicines? Well, then there’s a bad news for you. The Delhi High Court has banned the sale of drugs and prescribed medicines by online pharmacies.
So, you will no longer be able to buy medicines from online platforms. And if you do, it will be called “illegal”. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao has passed the interim order seeking a ban on “illegal” sale of drugs and medicines online.
So why has Delhi HC banned the sale of online medicines? According to the plea “Online pharmacies are operating without a drug licence and cannot be regulated in the present regime. Unregulated and unlicensed sale of medicines will increase the risk of spurious, misbranded and sub-standard drugs being sold.”
The plea reveals that there are several online pharmacies that are selling prescription medicines in large numbers without a valid prescription, which can put safety and health of the consumers at risk. Furthermore, the plea also asks authorities to take action against any such online pharmacies distributing, selling or exhibiting drugs on the internet.
The online sale of medicines can also lead people to get addicted to drugs and engage in misutilisation of habit-forming of consuming them without a valid prescription
Authorities have been directed to have an expert committee to find out the “total number of websites which are distributing and selling the drugs in the country” and impose a ban on the online sale and purchase of medicines on all of them.
Why ban online sale of medicine?
What happens when you buy medicines online? It may often lead to situations like drug epidemic and drug abuse, the petition filed by Zaheer Ahmed mentioned. The online sale of medicines can also lead people to get addicted to drugs and engage in misutilisation of habit-forming of consuming them without a valid prescription.
Advocate Nakul Mehta, who has been appearing for the petitioner said, “As an interim measure, the court has stopped unauthorised sale of medicines on the Internet and the government has been asked to take necessary steps forthwith.”
The petition by Ahmed also claimed that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and an expert committee that was appointed by the drug consultative committee had previously announced that the “online sale of medicines is in contravention of the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the other allied laws.” But sadly, even after that, lakhs of drugs are being sold on the internet every day, the petition noted.
The Petition also noted, “It is a matter of public knowledge that e-commerce websites have been caught on numerous occasions of selling fake products. Unlike consumer items, drugs are extremely potent substances and consuming wrong dose or fake medicine can have fatal consequences on the patient.”
It also mentioned that currently there’ no mechanism to control the sale of medicines on the Internet and hence the online sale of medicines /drug may cause health hazards not just for the adults but also among the children considering they spend most of their day on the internet. The petition further noted that the online sale of medicines also affects the right to a safe and healthy life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Delhi HC court has now listed the online sale of drugs/medicines matter for further hearing on March 25, 2019.